Today’s Ironman European Championship in Hamburg, Germany was marred by the death of a motorcycle driver. That cloud hub over the event as France’s Denis Chevrot put together a personal best performance by over 20 minutes to retain the Ironman European title he won last year in Frankfurt.
At yesterday’s press conference Chevrot was quick to downplay his chances of taking the win here in Hamburg, which appeared ready to celebrate the return to Ironman racing for three-time Kona champ (not to mention two-time 70.3 world champ and 2008 Olympic gold medalist) Jan Frodeno.
“When I saw the start list, I thought it would be very difficult to repeat it again,” he said in an interview after today’s race. “But I had great expectations about breaking my personal best. I achieved that by 24 minutes. I got the win – like they say, anything is possible in Ironman.”
In the end, though, Chevrot used a blazing-fast 2:31 run split to cruise to the win.
Frodeno leads the swim
The German star thrilled the Hamburg crowd by leading the way out of the water in 46:35, but had a group of 12 in close pursuit as the big group ran the approximately 800 m to their bikes in T1.
All but three of the group were still riding together through the halfway point of the ride – at that point Robert Kallin led the way followed by Frodeno, Kristian Hogenhaug, Josh Amberger, Jesper Svensson, Pieter Heemeryck, Chevrot, Florian Angert and Finn Grosse-Freese.
Hogenhaug would eventually break clear, hitting T2 with a 3:57:01 split and starting the run 2:17 up on Frodeno (4:00:22), who arrived in T2 with Kallin, Svensson and Heemeryck. Chevrot was next to start the run about a minute behind.
“Perfectly timed run”
Frodeno and Heemeryck quickly set themselves apart from the others in that group, steadily gaining on Hogenhaug through the first loop of the run. Through 20 km Frodeno managed to separate himself from the Belgian, with Chevrot still a little over a minute behind. Chevrot started to press towards the front at that point, though, and had passed the German before the end of the third of four loops, quickly opening up a gap of almost a minute. Heemeryck was now about three minutes behind the lead, but was still running strong.
Chevrot continued to fly through the last lap of the course, running a 2:31:39 split to win the race in 7:26:21. Heemeryck (7:31:01) and Hogenhaug (7:31:12) would both pass a fading Frodeno (it should read “fading” – Frodeno ran a 2:38:19 split) and sprint for the runner-up position, leaving Frodeno to take another fourth-place finish (he was fourth at the PTO European Open in Ibiza) in what was billed as his final Ironman race in Germany. Svensson (7:36:13) would round out the top five.
After the race Frodeno was quick to both acknowledge the sad news from the day, and congratulate Chevrot.
“Days like this – sport is sort of secondary,” Frodeno said. “Not to take away from Denis, he had a perfect run and timed it perfectly.”